Participation in Computing – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Participation in Computing

Molly Ketner

Molly Ketner

Pronouns: she/hers

Research Mentor(s): Barbara Ericson, Assistant Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Computing, School of Information
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 6 (4pm-4:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 9
Presenter: 8

Event Link


This qualitative analysis project is very relevant in the current world we are living in. With COVID-19 impacting students form of learning from the classroom to their house, it is important to remember that not all students have the same luxury. For example, some students may not have access to Wi-Fi or a laptop. Therefore, schools need to join the movement for broadening participation in computing (BPC) because there are many ways that people, especially students, can engage with computing. The relevant work for this study focuses on changing students’ perceptions of computing to be more ‘positive’. This project also focuses on a figured world and how students have a social position in it. Ultimately the study works to understand the question: what do women who participated in BPC programs view as participation in computing? Especially now during a pandemic, when everything is online. To assess this, the photo elicitation method was used, surveys were conducted, and then member checking techniques to gather data on the perceptions of computing and participation Participants were recruited through a screening form which asked them their gender, race, background in computing, and age. Data was collected through photo elicitation interviews. First, the participants were asked to collect photos that answered a prompt and then they were asked general follow-up interviews. The interviews are then coded and analyzed, through an application called Dedoose, to find any comparisons between the women and to figure out their perceptions of computing and what it means to participate in computing. The study moves beyond the focus on technological activity and onto the figured world and how the participants think about their participation in computing. The perceptions of computing are different for each person, however, there are similar themes among participants. The goal was to find more ways that students can participate with computing. The findings highlight the experiences and narratives of three participants, one from each program, and how they view participation in computing. Future studies could focus on “soft skills” within computing, such as leadership, activism, and diversity. Additionally, more work needs to be done to understand whether or not these themes are similar for a wider cross-section of BPC participants.

Authors: Molly Ketner, Melissa Perez
Research Method: Qualitative Study

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